Monday, October 20, 2008

Ethiopian Night

Once again I find myself being grateful for the Celiac diagnosis. Not for the disease I should clarify but for the diagnosis. Had we not needed to change the way we eat we wouldn't have had such a cool dinner today. A few weeks ago Ron saw on TV a program that talked about Teff. It is a gluten free grain which happens to be really nutritious. It is a mainstay of the Ethiopian diet. From Teff they make a bread called injera. He thought it looked good so he went ahead and ordered 25 lbs of the whole grain AND 25 lbs of the flour without even running it by me and without even ever trying the stuff. I guess he has some confidence in my abilities in the kitchen. Anyway, it arrived last Friday. It is really good. It is mild and I think the closest thing to wheat that we have tried yet. So then I started looking for recipes for injera. It sounded pretty simple but lots of people mentioned it being really hard to make. I can't imagine why. Here is the recipe: 1 1/2 cups of teff flour, 2 cups of water. That's it. You mix it up and cover it with a dishcloth and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days to let it ferment. Then add salt and pan fry it like a thin pancake. Fermenting is supposed to be really good for you but I have never done it before. I started it Friday and we had it today. We really liked it. It was like a sourdough pancake or crepe. Along with the injera I made 2 other Ethiopian dishes. I have to confess, I thought Ethiopian cuisine was probably not much more than a timber float (glass of water with a toothpick). Boy, was I wrong. It was unique and wonderful. I was pretty impressed that I even had everything in the house to make it. Here are the recipes.


1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon whole nutmeg freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon whole allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper (I have kids so used 1/8 t)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 cup water

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat. Do not burn; this should only take a minute or so. Set aside to cool. Then grind in spice grinder.
Combine the spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 3 tablespoons water in a small jar of a blender and blend until smooth.
Combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the skillet and toast over low heat for a minute or so. Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time. Then stir in the blended mixture. Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the berbere to a jar, packing it in tightly. Let the paste cook to room temperature, then cover with a film of oil. Store in the refrigerator between use.

Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Paste (Sik Sik Wat)

2 onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons Berbere
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 lb. lean boneless beef, cut into 1" pieces
Black pepper

In a large stewpot, cook the onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and dry. Do not let brown or burn.
Add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir well. Add the berbere and stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine, water, tomato sauce, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef and turn the pieces around in the sauce to coat. Cover the pot and simmer the beef for about 1 hour over low heat. Season with black pepper.

Alecha Wats

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoons berbere
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3cm slices
2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup
passata (tomato sauce)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 potatoes cut into thick slices
1 tomato blanched, skinned and cut into 8 wedges each
1 small cabbage cut into wedges
salt and pepper

Add the oil and onions to a large saucepan and fry until the onions have softened, add berbere, fry for a minute then add the carrots, green peppers, water, tomato sauce, salt and ground ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes before adding the cabbage. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables are completely tender (about 25 minutes).

As I said this was unique and very good. Even Sage ate 2 bowls. We made it fun by eating on the floor Ethiopian style and we were going to do it without utensils too but I just couldn't. Too messy. Traditionally Ethiopian food is eaten without utensils. The injera is folded in quarters and used to scoop up your meal. The girls got quite a kick out of this. It was fun. We will definitely do it again. I also have leftover Berbere so I need to find some more recipes to use it in. I feel pretty fortunate to have a husband who is almost as adventuresome as I am when it comes to trying new foods.

1 comment:

dani said...

There is an Ethiopian restaurant here (actually, just a block from Pagolac) and it is really good. I went with a friend and we didn't have a clue what to order, so we told them to bring us something. I loved that bread/crepe/panacake thing and we ate with our fingers.